MADISON, IL – September 21, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Looking to recharge his championship chances, there may be no better place for Pro Stock’s Drew Skillman to go than Gateway Motorsports Park for this weekend’s fifth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals.
Skillman’s first career victory came at the race a season ago in his impressive rookie campaign, also notching wins each of the last two years at the track in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series sportsman ranks. Following a first-round loss during the first race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship, returning to St. Louis could provide just the spark Skillman needs with five races left.
“I love that racetrack and it’s definitely one of my favorites,” said Skillman, who dropped to eighth in Pro Stock points. “We’ve always done really well there and we’ve been there a bunch so I’m familiar with it. I know what I’m expecting when I show up there but we have to have a good next couple races. We have to come out swinging.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 for the first time. The race is the second in the NHRA’s six-race playoffs and Skillman is determined to get back on track in the redesigned Pro Stock class.
The talented Skillman won his second career race recently in Brainerd but has since fallen into a slump at the worst possible time in his Ray Skillman Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro, falling in the first round at back-to-back races. That makes it even more difficult to track down the likes of points leader Jason Line, who won in Charlotte and has eight wins in 2016, but Skillman remains determined.
“We’re ready to get back in the car,” Skillman said. “We’ve gone through everything, picked away at some things and we’re feeling pretty good. We’re coming out swinging and we’ll see what happens. We’re behind the 8-ball a little bit, but it’s time to get after it. We’re going to keep working at it and see how we can finish this thing up.”
He joined the Gray Motorsports team midway through the 2016 campaign, making impressive strides capped off by the Brainerd win. But to take a step forward from last season’s finish Skillman knows he has to put together something impressive over the final five races, starting this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“It’s been working really well with the Grays,” Skillman said. “We’re going to try to finish strong, test a bunch this winter and be ready to go next year. But it’s better for everything to end the year strong, prove to everyone we still have what it takes.”
Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown started his title defense with the Charlotte victory and has four straight St. Louis wins. The likes of Doug Kalitta, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher and Steve Torrence will try to prevent a fifth consecutive victory.
In Funny Car, 16-time world champion John Force won the Countdown opener to spur his hopes of catching points leader Ron Capps, who has five wins in 2016. Worsham’s victory a year ago was one of four Countdown wins en route to the world championship.
Chip Ellis started the Countdown with the Pro Stock Motorcycle win, knocking off points leader Andrew Hines in the final, while Arana Jr. is after back-to-back wins at the track.
The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will also feature competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:45 and 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 1:45 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 855-RACE-TIK (722-3845). Tickets are available online at www.gatewaymsp.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more info, visit www.NHRA.com.
AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS
WHAT: Fifth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the second of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, Ill. – located five minutes from downtown St. Louis at the intersection of Interstates 55/70 and Ill. Route 203 (Exit 4).
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 445 feet above sea level; Track direction is south to north.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Sept. 23-25
FRIDAY, Sept. 23 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 2:15 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2:45 and 5:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, Sept. 24 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1 p.m.; first round of eliminations at 3:45 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, Sept. 25 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 23, FS1 will televise an hour of live qualifying coverage at 7 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 25, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 2 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 25, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Del Worsham, Funny Car; Drew Skillman, Pro Stock; Hector Arana Jr., Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Top Fuel – 3.718 sec. by Steve Torrence, Sept. ‘15; 329.99 mph by Dave Connolly, Sept. ‘15
Funny Car – 3.883 sec. and 330.47 mph by Matt Hagan, Sept. ‘15
Pro Stock – 6.492 sec. by Greg Anderson, Sept. ’15; 213.47 mph by Jason Line, Sept. ‘12
PS Motorcycle – 6.796 sec. and 198.58 mph by Hector Arana, Sept. ‘13
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at 855-RACE-TIK (855-722-3845). Tickets also are available online at www.gatewaymsp.com.
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and first of six rounds in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs –
1. Antron Brown, 2,226; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2,184; 3. Steve Torrence, 2,126; 4. Brittany Force, 2,110; 5. Tony Schumacher, 2,099; 6. J.R. Todd, 2,074; 7. Shawn Langdon, 2,067; 8. Leah Pritchett, 2,054; 9. Clay Millican, 2,052; 10. Richie Crampton, 2,046.
1. Ron Capps, 2,194; 2. Del Worsham, 2,152; 3. John Force, 2,144; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,132; 5. Matt Hagan, 2,122; 6. Courtney Force, 2,094; 7. Robert Hight, 2,093; 8. Jack Beckman, 2,084; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,067; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,036.
1. Jason Line, 2,233; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,183; 3. Vincent Nobile, 2,129; 4. Bo Butner, 2,123; 5. Allen Johnson, 2,095; 6. Chris McGaha, 2,082; 7. Shane Gray, 2,081; 8. Drew Skillman, 2,073; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 2,052; 10. Erica Enders, 2,020.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines, 2,205; 2. Chip Ellis, 2,161; 3. Angelle Sampey, 2,156; 4. Eddie Krawiec, 2,120; 5. LE Tonglet, 2,106; 6. Jerry Savoie, 2,099; 7. Hector Arana Jr, 2,083; 8. Hector Arana, 2,052; 9. Matt Smith, 2,042; 10. Cory Reed, 2,032.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association